Plus why Pyne is pleased with international education

You’ve seen the film now play with the research

Lego has donated stg2.5m to the University of Cambridge for a research centre on play education, development and learning. Can a journal be far away?

CEF June 15 3

Patented under-performance

Now here’s a league table that research boosters will not mention; the US National Academy of Inventors list of top 100 institutions that were awarded US patents in 2014. Why? Because Australia isn’t on it. But Israel is, with five institutions and Taiwan is, with eight. So is China (six), seven including Hong Kong. Switzerland, Canada, Japan and Singapore all have a listing. But, as with just about every ranking it is the United States and then daylight, with 63 US institutions on the list. The University of California is first with 453 patents, followed by MIT with 257. The only non-US university in the top ten is Tsinghua U in third spot with 182. Chief Scientist Ian Chubb argues that claims Australian research is above world class rather miss the point, that we do not look so flash when compared solely to the competition that matters, the US and Europe. But when it comes to US patents it seems we equal the Europeans in not rating at all.

Budgeting for a blue

It’s budget day in Adelaide and CMM will be looking out for training expenditure, given Training Minister Gail Gago’s plan to give TAFE a damn near monopoly for next year. The move has generated enormous ire in Adelaide, upsetting industry, private providers and the federal training minister and SA senator Simon Birmingham who has had a rails run in pointing out the damage propping up TAFE will do. After a tough interview with David Penberthy on Radio 5AA (CMM June 3) Ms Gago has kept her head down and is yet to respond to Senator Birmingham’s suggestion that the SA government could have breached conditions on $65m in federal funding and has said he is considering funding providers direct (CMM June 10). Senator Birmingham took a dorothy from his SA colleague Sean Edwards in Senate question time yesterday but it seems Ms Gago is not for moving.

ANU June 1

Top of the class

Impressed readers point to the productivity of education academics Phillip Hallinger and Allan Walker, who are authors on five out of seven articles in the new issue of the Journal of Educational Administration, which they edit. Outstanding.

Pyneing for good news

Malcolm Tucker’s First Law of Spin holds that policy problems create compensating good news announcements, which might explain why Education Minister Chris Pyne is so keen to talk about international education exports. Ahead of today’s meeting of his new council of international education elders Mr Pyne has already announced popular changes to student visas and yesterday welcomed May’s sales figures. There are 434 000 international students, with 168 000 of them starting courses. “This latest data clearly shows that the Australian Government’s commitment to strengthening Australia’s international education is working,” Mr Pyne said, But probably not as much as decades of brand building by universities and colleges.

April figures show overall international numbers up 11 per cent on 2014, with commencements increasing 9 per cent. The Chinese market remains dominant, accounting for 27 per cent of enrolments, over twice the next nation, India at 11 per cent. However while the China trade grew by 13 per cent, sales to Indians were up 27 per cent. VET sales were especially strong, increasing by 15 per cent. Higher education was the only sector with single digit growth, at 9.4 per cent.

Dollar signs in the skies

No matter how much money ends up in the Medical Research Future Fund it will not be enough for researchers, what with the way there is still no cure for death. So the 2015 Conference on Philanthropy for Health is on in August, details here. The theme is “Researchers are from Mars, givers are from Venus” and it will cost you a mere $1000 to find out what this means.

Spot the difference

Here’s what the RMIT newsroom thinks university economist Sinclair Davidson said on the ABC’s World Today programme, yesterday (via Twitter); “RMIT’s Sinc Davidson is adding his voice to the call for investors to move out of coal assets.”

And here’s the ABC transcript of what Professor Davidson said when asked about investment funds selling out of coal; “this was not good investment practice at all that the anti-coal, anti-fossil fuel divestment crowd were making a series of claims that were probably not quite correct. … I think only if the fund is being explicitly marketed as being an ethical fund should these sorts of decisions come into it, but otherwise, they should simply be maximising the returns subject to risk and allowing their unit holders to make their own choices around what is ethical and unethical.”

Loss leaders

Now here’s a league table nobody wants to be on. Retraction Watch has counted up the top ten researchers for retractions. Seven of them worked in medicine with the others being a physicist, a psychologist and IT comms person.

Beaut but no bonanza

The China Free Trade Agreement was signed yesterday, which is yet more good news for education exporters, at least according to the prime minister. “Australian services providers: financial, education, health and aged care, will have new access to China’s services sector – a sector that is already the largest contributor to China’s GDP and is set to drive economic growth in coming years,” Mr Abbott said yesterday. Up to a point PM, the heads of agreement commits to adding 70 private providers to the list of Australian education institutions on the Chinese government’s offshore education website (November 20). Beaut but no bonanza. You have to wonder how much growth there is still in the China market.